I sometimes tell my new hires they were actually brought to F+Y by design to have a spiritual experience for which the whole “handcrafted apothecary” thing is just a front (this is typically responded to with a nervous chuckle). And then I give them their first assignment: Jiro Dreams of Sushi. This is a favorite documentary of mine that so wonderfully represents the essence of what we do at F+Y though perhaps only hints at why. The true why is always a multifaceted and individual matter, though my hope is that, through practicing attention to detail and showing a special care for what we each do as part of the overall effort, we end up offering more than just a product and we end up receiving more than just a profit.
Shokunin is a term introduced to me through Jiro. It means ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan’ and relates to training and development through repetition. Of course it’s far more textured and nuanced than simply mastering a skill set. It has much to do with developing mastery within oneself. The material one works with becomes an extension of what is primarily an internal process. It also has to do with one’s commitment, through their trade, to others. The refinement of one’s skill, the desire to offer a better and better product each time, has always the recipient in mind and is as much a spiritual as it is a material offering.
So it’s with a bit of dry irony that I say the whole F+Y operation is a front because I do believe it gives all of us here an excuse to personally develop and evolve through our work. From production to shipping to accounting and creative, I encourage everyone (and remind myself) to practice Shokunin Kishitsu or 'artisan spirit'. It makes each relatively mundane task feel important and fulfilling. It draws the emphasis from the bigger, broader goals and places our focus on those things we have more power to immediately influence. As a consequence, those grander goals not only feel less daunting, they seem to work themselves out naturally and effortlessly.
As I’m basking in this fresh new year feeling, giving a head nod to the past and plotting the future, I’m feeling awash with gratitude for the opportunity we have to do this thing we do here. So to wrap up what’s starting to sound like a tipsy New Year’s toast, I want to express my sincere thanks for your patronage, love notes and general support. And I want to invite you all to bring a bit of Shokunin Kishitsu into your 2015. It’s been a great pleasure and honor to serve you and we look forward to more of it in the coming year!
This email makes me want to work for F+Y